June 4, 2013

History Of Rome, again

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Over six months ago there was a post extolling the virtues of The History of Rome Podcast (on iTunes here). This was despite only having listed to a quarter of the 189(!) episodes. Now I have finished all of them.

The series quality only increased as it progressed – both in terms of production and content. Most impressively as it progresses chronologically through the years, the level of detail never drops. All Roman history podcasts I have listened to before this one skip briefly over the 3rd century crisis. This podcasts ploughs straight on through this turbulent time in detail – despite the unreliability of primary sources (which is noted in the episodes). Similarly, after the Roman resurgence between Diocletian and Theodosius, most podcasts quickly cover the fall of the western empire with little more than a mention of puppet emperors and barbarian invasions. Here all the gritty details are mentioned. The way semi-independent “barbarian” kingdoms formed (with Roman approval), the occasional restoration of power and court intrigues are all covered. It is particularly interesting to learn of the isolated Domain of Soissons in northern Gaul, which considered itself part of the Western Empire even after there was no Western Empire left (other than itself).

The series finishes with the exile of last emperor in the west, Romulus Augustulus. It could be considered that Rome continued via the Byzantine Empire. However to continue to the fall of Constantinople would probably more double the number of episodes. So the fall of Rome and the west seems a good place to stop. Mike Duncan (the writer and presenter) has since stated he plans on a new series focusing on various revolutions. Based on the quality of this series, I will definitely give the new one a try.

Very highly recommended!


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